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Bike plan meeting sets path for safe network

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Manon Arnett, public information officer for New Mexico Department of Transportation District 2, fits a little girl for a helmet on Wednesday afternoon at the department’s local office at 4505 W. Second St. Arnett said 96 helmets were given out for National Bicycle Safety Month by the DOT and Department of Public Health. (Submitted Photo)

Spring River Corridor Foundation donates rental bikes to city

An initial input meeting garnered concerns from residents, as well as a current assessment from the engineering firm, on the city of Roswell’s bike and pedestrian amenities.

A press release from New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) stated that May is National Bicycle Safety Month. NMDOT District 2 and the Department of Public Health had a free helmet distribution for children and adults on Wednesday afternoon. Manon Arnett, District 2’s public information officer, said 96 helmets were given out and recipients were appreciative.

Engineering firm Bohannan Huston Inc. (BHI), based out of Albuquerque with offices in Las Cruces and Denver, hosted a public input meeting in the Bondurant Room at the Roswell Public Library on May 2. About 30 people were in attendance including city staff and City Councilor Jeanine Corn Best.

City Engineer Louis Najar explained the city applied for money to pay for this masterplan about two years ago and BHI was selected through a request for proposals process.

Input meeting

Aaron Sussman, senior planner at BHI, gave a formal presentation and asked what the audience wanted for their bikers and pedestrians. Denise Aten, BHI vice president, Planner Curtis Sanders and Engineer Alvin Dominguez were also present. Boards with graphics of the city’s current bike paths and trails were set around the room. Some of the infographics allowed citizens to place a sticker on their level of comfortability for examples of bike trails.

Sussman said there are many opportunities to build off existing trails to improve the “bicycle and pedestrian experience” for residents and visitors alike to connect to destinations around the city, therefore, contributing to the economy.

“That’s a really big part of this,” Sussman said. “We’re not just putting lines on a map. (What) we really want to look at is, how do we create the opportunities for the city to build out these networks. In terms of why we’re doing this, more and more cities — and Roswell is a good example of this — are really recognizing how important it is to provide opportunities for people to walk and bike and connect to transit in terms of quality of life. And can people do that with opportunities to, again — to recreate, to exercise, to walk around socially to access businesses, to send their kids to school safely — these are all important benefits of the plan …”

For Roswell’s current bike and pedestrian strengths, Sussman said there is a growing system of trails, and the downtown and Main Street areas are pedestrian friendly and walkable. He said the city’s grid organization is “a transportation planner’s dream.” He added that some of the challenges are that bike routes are not “comfortable” for cyclists yet, lack of sidewalk connections, and there are gaps in the network. He noted that there are some designated bike routes such as Hobbs, Atkinson and College that need improvements that will be determined through technical analysis.

The PowerPoint presentation, infographic boards, an anonymous questionnaire and an interactive map can be found on the project’s website (bhinc.com/roswell-bike-ped-plan/).

For the online interactive map, Sussman said residents can mark biking locations, obstacles, poor trail or sidewalk conditions for biking and walking and also provide general comments.

Strengths and

challenges

Sussman asked in two questions what people wanted from their bike and pedestrian system. Some audience members asked for the pedestrian system to have quality infrastructure to support walkability, better access to destinations, safety with motorists and also asked about skateboarders and hoverboards.

For the current bike facilities, participants said people don’t currently stay to the right on trails — trails are not wide enough to accommodate a biker and walker at the same time, noted a lack of maintenance and marking, shared a concern for accessibility and that cyclists tend to ride facing traffic rather than with it. They also voiced concerns about the education of cyclists and those operating motor vehicles.

Aten said anything in the plan is considered for accessibility compliance within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She said in a meeting with the city, the maintenance of current facilities was discussed and the plan will develop priorities based on funding and needs.

In summer or fall, Sussman said collective feedback from questionnaires and online input maps will be presented for the second meeting. The third meeting is slated in early 2020 where a drafted map and recommendations will be presented. He said the idea is for the plan to be completed in May 2020.

“We just want to keep Roswell going forward,” Aten said. “We know people have put a lot of investment in your bike and ped facilities, but we also know that there’s a lot more to be done, so we want to keep going.”

Donated cruisers

In other bike news, Bob Edwards reminded city of Roswell’s General Services Committee on May 1 of a $3,000 bicycle donation from the Spring River Corridor Foundation for the Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center.

According to meeting minutes, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4 to 0 to accept the 10 bicycles and implement a bike rental program on Sept. 17. Edwards described the momentum for the bike rental program as a “log jam” and wanted to “get it rolling.”

Edwards said the foundation’s only desire was to donate the bikes, let the city run the rental services and to have funds from the rental service go directly into an account for future pool repair. Edwards said JaneAnn Oldrup, Parks and Recreation Commission chair, also received 10 helmets from a brain trauma organization in Santa Fe for each of the beach cruisers.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.